A Thing Of Beauty

There’s so much poetry written about women. An endless fascination with their beauty, character, and bodies. Women – the inspiration for art, muses for the artist. A woman can hold a gaze in a way that no man can recreate, she is the centrepiece of every room, the moon amongst the stars.

Women are empowered on every corner – reminded that they’re smart, beautiful, funny, and intelligent. They have an abundance of support systems, constant reassurances from advertising, and a network of people willing to help them. I began to question how, as a society, we have this unhealthy attitude of degrading men in an attempt to empower women.

There’s a mass under appreciation of men. The male anatomy, the male brain, the male heart, and the male sex – I think there’s endless beauty there. Something often overlooked.

I remember the first time I spent endless moments observing the male body in person. Height that towered over me, broad shoulders that symbolised his solidarity, and sharp edges, a blatant contrast to the curves of a woman. Beautiful straight lines, definition of muscles in places that I had never seen. I was in awe of him.

As time moved on I began to understand that the cognition of the male brain was significantly different to a woman’s. It was more linear, logical, and less erratic. There was a peace, a simplicity, something so comforting and safe rattling around in there. Something unfazed by the trivial – I loved it.

The male heart is probably one of my favourite places in this world. It’s like a secluded beach, a place that never understands how beautiful it is, how rare it is, and how much value it holds. A mans heart is this perfect balance of humility, simplicity, and softness. It took me a while to understand how this organ worked. I found myself thinking it was far more complex that it actually was, I found that if you feed a man love, he will flourish. A man’s heart responding to love is like watching a garden bloom in spring.

I learnt very early on that men have a completely different relationship with their sexuality – their desires and their chemistry. Some hold a shame, others a freedom – there is an unaltered intrinsic desire, something that isn’t imposed on them. Their desires carnal, and animalistic in a way that a woman can’t understand, a physical urge that is driven by biochemistry.

I’m often inspired by men, the way that they don’t know that they’re being watched, the way they grow when given the right amount of fuel. The way they look, and the way they love.

Why Do We Connect?

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote that “There are all kinds of love in this world, but never the same love twice.” Simply put, human connections vary with every different relationship. You will never have an identical connection with one partner as you will have with the next.

But do we actually have the same love/connection with the same person?
The already established connection is characterised by constant change and perpetual threats of dissolution. We’re the most adaptive species; which means in every moment we connect the stability is undermined by our own naturally, autonomously, evolving state; and theirs.

Why do we search, so thoroughly, in hopes to find someone that can offer us the same peace we require? Or are we masochists and narcissists who are aware of how futile searching for a connection is, but for some reason enjoy the unfulfilled search? Or is it because we value the rarity and ineffable profoundness of the moment we connect to another person regardless of its nature?

Is that moment so intoxicating that it haunts, inspires and fuels us for more, greater, even deeper connections, setting an unattainable ideal?

Perhaps those moments of connection, whether it’s something as innocuous as being the only two people who laugh at a joke, almost in unison, as though your thoughts were shared through some strange telekinetic experience or something much deeper and far more enigmatic, maybe it’s just a silver lining to all the other bullshit we have to deal with, maybe we don’t try and turn it into something tangible, maybe we just let it crash through us and wait for the next wave to hit?

Dystopian Fears: Eight Films That Make You Think

“Utopian” describes a society that’s conceived to be perfect. Dystopian, however, is the exact opposite — it describes an imaginary society that is as dehumanising and as unpleasant as possible.

I love a good dystopian storyline, be it novel or film. This is a comprehensive list of, in my opinion, the most disturbing ones. These films reflect broad social concerns and ideologies, it’s because of this that these films transcend space, time, culture, and language.

The reason I have such an affinity for anything dystopian is because they provoke thought about our society, and its fears. These films provide a meaty piece of food for thought – so go on, take a bite.

1. The Time Machine 1960

Scope: Space/Time Continuum, Communist Utopia, Capitalist Dystopia, Evolution

H. G. Wells wrote The Time Machine in 1895 during the Industrial Revolution of late Victorian England. England at the time had a capitalist economy based on rich people making their money off the backs of poor factory workers. Wells was a socialist. The Time Machine starts off as a deceptive communist utopia that is ultimately revealed to be an exaggerated future vision of capitalist dystopia.

Food for thought question: What does our distant future look like? How can we make sure that our future is safe from catastrophe?

2. Children Of Men 2006

Scope: Species, Reproduction, Fertility

Women struggle to fall pregnant, it’s common. In today’s society, there are an array of conditions that create infertility in women. But what would happen if women stopped falling pregnant altogether? What if that was it for the entire human race?

This film explores the question of fertility, and the importance it has, not only on our society, but on our species.

Food for thought question: How important is the fertility of our women, and why are so many women struggling to fall pregnant ?

3. The Matrix

Scope: Technology Control, Apocalypse, Reality

This world inside the computer fabricates what you hear, smell, see, taste and even touch. The computers feel that by controlling every minute detail of what humans are allowed to experience they are bettering the human’s lives while also preserving their own. This is a great example of technological control. These advanced machines have progressed so far as to oppress the very beings that created them. Because they have isolated and incapacitated each human, they completely control all sources of information, independent thought, freedom, or true individuality, all characteristics of a dystopian society.

Also, the natural world, the world taken over by machines where each human’s body actually resides, has been completely banned from The Matrix, so much so that only a tiny fraction of the population even have knowledge of it. These many facts combined with the reoccurring theme of control and technological dictatorship help cement in our minds that The Matrix is the perfect dystopia.

Food for thought question: What is reality? How can we be certain of it? What fears do you have of technology control?

4. Battle Royale 2000

Scope: Totalitarian, Death Games, Nihilistic Youth

Battle Royale, a high-octane thriller about senseless youth violence, is one of Japan’s best-selling — and most controversial — novels.

As part of a ruthless program by the totalitarian government, ninth-grade students are taken to a small isolated island with a map, food, and various weapons. Forced to wear special collars that explode when they break a rule, they must fight each other for three days until only one “winner” remains. The elimination contest becomes the ultimate in must-see reality television.

A Japanese pulp classic available in English for the first time, Battle Royale is a potent allegory of what it means to be young and survive in today’s dog-eat-dog world. The first novel by small-town journalist Koushun Takami, it went on to become an even more notorious film by 70-year-old gangster director Kinji Fukusaku.

Food for thought question: What do we classify as entertainment? Are our reality television shows becoming far too cruel and exploitive? What will this lead to?

5. Planet Of The Apes 1968

Scope: Cosmology, Evolution, Hierarchy, Origin Of Species

What if we weren’t the most intelligent species? What if human’s weren’t in control? Planet Of The Apes crosses dimensions in order to portray what it would be like if Homo Sapiens weren’t the evolutionary pinnacle – but Apes were.

Food for thought question: What would it be like if we weren’t at the top of the food chain? Why are we at the top of the food chain?

6. Her 2013

Scope: Transhumanism, Relationships, Love, Intimacy

Her is a meticulous and creepily seductive criticism of our techno-orientation toward transhumanism. It is the dystopian film of our time, a haunting glimpse at the near future.

The transhumanist theory is that, when you strip away the illusions, we’re all basically Operating Systems. We’re, as Descartes first explained, conscious machines. A problem, though, is that our bodies are really bad machines. They cause us to be limited by time and space, and they cause us to die. The dependence of our consciousness on really defective hardware causes each of us to face personal extinction. It also causes us to be a lot stupider than what a conscious being would be located in a better machine. That conscious machine wouldn’t face our barriers to personal and intellectual growth or, for that matter, for experiencing love.

Food for thought question: What is artificial romance/relationships? If you could have a perfect connection with artificial intelligence, would you choose that relationship over an imperfect human one?

7. Frankenstein 1931

Scope: Science, Technology, God

There is a lesson here regarding our future potential to create beings that our sentient like ourselves – the technological hopes of the hour being uplifting and AI – that we need to think about the problem of homelessness when creating such beings. All highly intelligent creatures that we know of with the remarkable exception of the cephalopods are social creatures therefore any intelligent creature we create will likely need to have some version of home a world where it can be social as well.

The dangers of monstrousness emerging from intelligence lacking a social world was brilliantly illustrated by another 19th century science-fiction horror story- H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr Moreau (there’s a movie version with Marlon Brando – who has seen better days).

Bonus: In Mary Shelley’s novel she gives us insight into the origins of evil in the absence of such a world. Because it cannot be loved, Victor’s Frankenstein’s creation will destroy in the same way his every attempt to reach out to other sentient creature is ultimately destroyed with the creature telling his creator who has left him existentially shipwrecked.

Food for thought question: What do we consider playing god and what do we consider scientific revelation? Are we responsible for the life we create, if so, to what extent? How far are we willing to let science take us?

8. Ex Machina 2015

Scope: Technology, Artificial Intelligence,Fear

Unlike Frankenstein, Ex Machina resembles on the surface, the real victims of the film’s conflicts — which impressively run the gamut from “man-vs-machine” to “man-vs-man” to “man-vs-God” — are not the creator, his creation, or the unwilling “everyman” participant. It’s every digitally-connected man and woman on the planet, who for the sake of convenience or conformity or commerce have put themselves at the mercy of tech leaders guided by greed, hubris, a lack of principles, or all three.

In order to find the parts needed to build his monster, Dr. Frankenstein robbed graves — an ethically questionable move but essentially victimless. The men and women he pilfered were all already dead. But when the new tech elite build their monsters, they’ll go after the living.

Food for thought questions: Does being scared about AI have more to do with our fear of each other than with killer robots? What is the human? Can that thing be replicated?

The Infinite Argument – Is Man Vegetarian Or Carnivorous?


Note: This argument considers human diet relating to matters of health, efficiency, and bodily survival. It does not draw conclusions from arguments such as environmental impacts, animal rights, or a moral/ethical dilemma. The question is specific to what is man, not what man should be, or what man could be.

I was raised in a Greek household – like in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you’ll find that lamb is intrinsic to our culture. Animal protein was served at every meal, red meat was on the menu as often as 6 times a week. I vividly remember asking my father about being vegetarian – it was as though I had committed heresy, the word ‘vegetarian’ considered blasphemy.

“Vegetarian? You can’t do that! Humans only began to evolve once we started eating meat, it’s food for the brain! We’d still be in caves if it wasn’t for meat, the body can’t survive on mushrooms and carrots! Quick go eat some lamb chops I just pulled off the barbie ”

I’ve spent quite some time listening to vegetarians, vegans, omnivores, and carnivores who plead their case, all claiming to know exactly what man should consume – some of them even presenting scientific research and evidentiary support.

Protein, carbohydrates and fats. That’s what our body needs to survive – does it really matter the source that they come from?

In all my research it appears as though each side is riding a counterfactual crusade against one another. Why are they all in such combat?

Vegetarians

They don’t eat meat – but they are okay with eggs, milk, honey etc.

A vegetarian diet is associated with a higher consumption of fibre, folic acid, vitamins C and E, magnesium, unsaturated fat, and countless phytochemicals. This often results in vegetarians having lower cholesterol, being thinner, having lower blood pressure, and reduced risk of heart disease.

Interestingly enough, all the scientifically proven arguments that promote vegetarianism is all focused on the absence of meat “If you’re a vegetarian, your cholesterol will lower because meat makes your cholesterol higher” – This isn’t a benefit of the diet, but a benefit from the lack of meat.

I am yet to find any argument that proposes that being a vegetarian in itself is a benefit.

Vegans

From my understanding, this is more an ideology, rather than from a health perspective. Vegans are basically vegetarians that avoid anything that has to do with animals – not even honey.

More and more people are turning to a vegan diet for benefits that boast increased energy, younger looking skin and eternal youth – just some claims from enthusiastic plant eaters.

Well, eternal youth might be a bit optimistic, but there are certainly many scientifically proven benefits to vegan living when compared to the average western diet.

Well-planned plant-based diets are rich in protein, iron, calcium and other essential vitamins and minerals. The plant-based sources of these nutrients tend to be low in saturated fat, high in fibre and packed with antioxidants, helping mitigate some of the modern world’s biggest health issues like obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

The arguments are the same, being vegan equals benefits because a minus of meat – again, the fact that we’re talking about an alteration from the norm provides insight as to what norm is, and if it is norm, then is it not clear evidence that eating meat is the norm? Does this not prove that man is carnivore?

Omnivores

Omnivores eat both plant and animal proteins.

Omnivores Get a Good Balance of Healthy Cholesterol

Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) is the bad kind of cholesterol that blocks arteries and leads to heart attack or stroke. High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is good cholesterol that actually reduces heart attack risk. Omnivores get more cholesterol, which is necessary for survival. Our bodies depend on cholesterol to make acids for digestion and critical hormones. Cholesterol also aids in the production of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

Omnivores Get Amino Acids

A diet of meat and dairy products provides essential amino acids, which are important for a healthy immune system, healthy skin, healing wounds, forming tooth enamel, growth in children, processing protein, vitamins and minerals, forming connective tissue and bones and other bodily functions. Vegans and vegetarians need to eat foods high in the amino acid lysine in order to stay healthy. Legumes, pistachios, quiona, tofu, tumpeh and soy meats provide lysine.

Omnivores Get B Vitamins

Omnivores get B vitamins naturally in their diet. B vitamins include B1 through B12 and each performs an important function. They turn food into energy, build strong muscles, joints and ligaments, fight inflammation and help the body absorb other nutrients. Vegetarians and vegans must take supplements to get these important nutrients.

Omnivores Get Carnosine

Carnosine protects against diseases of aging, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and heart disease. Research also indicates that it might be beneficial to autistic children. Omnivores get carnosine naturally in their diet by eating meat. The level of carnosine in our bodies decreases as we age, and it’s become a popular anti-aging product marketed as a supplement.

Omnivores Eat More Lean Protein, Fewer Carbohydrates

Protein builds lean muscle mass, and omnivores typically eat more than vegetarians or vegans. Diets devoid of meat and dairy products are higher in carbohydrates, which can result in less overall strength and endurance. Carbohydrates are also responsible for fluctuations in blood-sugar levels, so diabetics must be careful not to consume too many because the body turns them into sugar. Some studies indicate that children raised on a vegetarian or vegan diet are shorter in stature than their omnivore peers due to less protein.

Carnivores

Basically, animals that eat other animals.

As a new study in Nature makes clear, not only did processing and eating meat come naturally to humans, it’s entirely possible that without an early diet that included generous amounts of animal protein, we wouldn’t even have become human—at least not the modern, verbal, intelligent humans we are.

It was about 2.6 million years ago that meat first became a significant part of the pre-human diet, and if Australopithecus had had a forehead to slap it would surely have done so. Being an herbivore was easy—fruits and vegetables don’t run away, after all. But they’re also not terribly calorie-dense. A better alternative were so-called underground storage organs (USOs)—root foods like beets and yams and potatoes. They pack a bigger nutritional wallop, but they’re not terribly tasty—at least not raw—and they’re very hard to chew. According to Harvard University evolutionary biologists Katherine Zink and Daniel Lieberman, the authors of the Nature paper, proto-humans eating enough root food to stay alive would have had to go through up to 15 million “chewing cycles” a year.

This is where meat stepped—and ran and scurried—in to save the day. Prey that has been killed and then prepared either by slicing, pounding or flaking provides a much more calorie-rich meal with much less chewing than root foods do, boosting nutrient levels overall. (Cooking, which would have made things easier still, did not come into vogue until 500,000 years ago.)

I think that the reason we are at the top of the food chain is because of our success as a species. Intelligence and adaptability. We are continuously evolving at the speed of light – it could appear to those who were to compare the evolution of our species to any others’. I don’t doubt that we were once vegetarians, and carnivores at one point too. Is it possible that balance is the answer? Could we be neither, could we be both? Is an omnivore diet the answer?

Chaos

Perpetually stuck in a revolving door of anarchy.
In the most simplest of forms, I am a mess.
A delirium of unpredictability.
Soft mayhem.
Chaos.

A predestined fate followed out incorrectly.
A predictable direction, veered off course.
A plan that never goes to plan.
An abundance of unknown.

The arrhythmia of a dying heart.
Humanity without morality.
Billiards on an oval table.
An anthem, syncopated.

What is chaos but the formless matter that existed before the creation of the universe?

Photo Credit Illusion

The Bad Day

Wrong.

Today has been the wrong day.
From beginning to end. Everything that could have gone wrong, did.

You know those days, the days that it seems like the world is picking on you personally?
Every so often, we all have them.

What’s behind this? Is it some karmic payback for having your shit together too often?
Is it a lack of preparation? Or purely something that’s out of our hands?

It progressively gets worse throughout the day.

Your alarm just happens to not work. For the past 360 days, it’s woken you up on time been heavily reliable. Not today. Today it decides not to, for some strange reason, some cosmic interception it just didn’t. You can’t seem to find your clothes. The ones you picked out last night. So you put together some absolutely ridiculous ensemble that doesn’t even fit you properly.

The alarm not going off creates a butterfly effect and you’re late for your train, you take your breakfast with you because you don’t have time to eat it at home, as you open your car door, the container of breakfast flies out of your hands and the somehow the air tight container opens and plants your food in a giant puddle on the ground.

An eye-roll, hoping that this is the last of it. “Oh silly girl, it’s only the beginning” the day seems to chuckle.

The day progressively gets worse, no doubt stringing from the events of the morning. All you can think of is that moment that you get home and hit your head on the pillow. The moment you can finally declare the day a write off and start a fresh for the next day.

What I hope to uncover is the reason behind this strange phenomenon of “The Bad Day”.
Is it written in the stars? Does one have to pay their dues? Are these bad days perpetrated by something more sinister, or are they only as real as we make them?

I think bad days only exist in our minds. If our beliefs control our actions on a subconscious level then maybe its just us making it worse by preemptively perpetuating the bad stuff.

As humans, we seek order in an essentially random world, this is why we see the patterns within the coincidences of a bad day. We are always looking for order, and seek it in order to make sense of our existence.

So, think about this when you’re having a bad day, and focus on the good commonalities rather than the bad. Tomorrow is another day.

Photo Credit Illusion

How Did Language Happen?

Let’s talk about the evolutionary origin of language through the amalgamation of theories created by Condillac and Darwin. Rather than exploring the numerous complex notions that attempt to answer the question of how human language originated and the subsequent flaws in those arguments, this article will focus in on one specific theory, the theory that, in my opinion, makes the most logical, tangible and plausible argument.

In answering this question it is important to make a clear definition of the question in order to determine the course of the argument. The interpretation of the question “How did (human) language originate?” will be defined as; what were the motivations, functions and causes for the development of language. We must also define the term language; while there is such a broad notion of the term, it is vital to narrow the definition to a specific; in this article we will define language as a means for acquiring, memorising and discussing clear and distinct ideas.

Language has universally been felt to be a characteristic that sets humans apart from other species. It is part biological heritage and part the product of learning by a social creature that makes this explanation of the origin and evolution of language most valid. If we define language as the framework for expressing the implications of actions and how decisions about such actions are made; then we must take a close look at the pre-Darwinian theories of language because the basis of this definition stems from these theories. Three facts came to be recognised that encouraged eighteenth century speculation on the origin of language.

  1. There are a large number of different languages
  2. All languages seem to be subject to change
  3. Children do not biologically inherit their language[1]

In assessing the evolution of human progress it was natural to believe that the earliest man was inventive, thus thinkers believed man was capable of inventing signs for communication[2]. Locke considered the human mind capable of clear and distinct knowledge prior to the use of knowledge, thereby giving language meaning arbitrarily by deciding which ideas are to be related to which sounds. Condillac then understood the role of language as a means for acquiring, memorising and discussing clear and distinct ideas[3]. Condillac stressed that man’s first efforts at communication must have involved only the use of signs that are self-explanatory (such as threatening postures). In time, men would learn the effects of their movements on their companions and would come to perform deliberate actions that had at first no reference to other persons.

An important point in Condillac’s argument is that actions that were not initially intentional as signals to others, came in time to be deliberately made signals; in other words, the secondary effect of these actions was first noted and then exploited[4]. For Condillac the use of signs led to the improvement of mental powers, which in turn lead to a development in the use of signs. Condillac explains that cries of various kinds were among initial natural reactions and came to be used as signs in the same way gestures did: becoming converted to signs, they gradually lost their natural emphasis and were imitated by controlled or articulate sounds. A groan was originally a spontaneous expression of emotion, but when it was deliberately made in order to call for help, it became a simulated groan, an imitation with motivation. Once a certain number of such sounds had come to be used in this way, others would be added by similarity; because they were convoyed by gestures, they came to be connected with the objects to which the gestures referred. Condillac held that the elements of spoken language must at first have followed the order of acquisition that was natural in sign language.[5]

In The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin devoted an entire chapter to “the diversities of instinct and of the other mental qualities of animals within the same class”. He argues the notion that language is a complex phenomenon and there must have been, by necessity, several mechanisms to produce it[6]. If we follow the Darwinian model, in which emergence takes place, it presupposes a preliminary state, a process of generating genetic variants, of selection and a process of reproduction. These approaches emphasis the functional selection process and the emergence of speech and language that is the result of a remarkable conjunction of:

  1. The existence of a highly sophisticated auditory system and organs for respiration, mastication, and swallowing shaped for vital functions
  2.  The Exaptation of these organs as vocal instruments capable of producing complex sound signals, coordinated with respiration.
  3.  The emergence of cognitive capacities that allow humans;
  4.  To learn fine control of the vocal instrument (phonation and articulation)
  5.  To make use of a doubly compositional system, language, that enables them to generate tens of thousands of words from only a few dozen sounds and then combine them in and infinite number of sentence
  6.  The arbitrarily associate meanings with each of the elements produced in this way, a linguistic system, language, shared by a group of speakers and listeners
  7.  The extension, structuring and maintenance of social relationships to increase the chances of survival (cooperation, forming alliances, political organisations, status, bonding etc.) not only for small groups but also for large populations
    – The choice of sexual partners ( enhanced ability to persuade)
  8.  The possibility of transmitting information(memory) and educating children
  9.  Hunting (sign language is not as useful if one has to carry weapons in one’s hands)
  10.  Technology that requires complex learning and planning of a procedure: for manufacturing tools, as well as their diversification and semiotic and sociocultural function; transportation of materials, bone tools, trade,
  11.  Possibly representing peoples’ mental states[7]

Darwin argues that the need for courting a mate, expressing a state of emotion or challenging a rival led to the motivation for language and then ultimately these articulate sounds have gradually turned into words. He continues “it does not appear altogether incredible, that some unusually wise ape-like animal should have thought of imitating the growl of a beast of prey, so as to indicate to his fellow monkeys the nature of the expected danger. And this would have been a first step in the formation of language. [8] He sees the superior development of protohuman cognition as reflecting an increase in intelligence in the hominid lineage under the impact of selection pressures. Thus it is the theory that evolutionary steps leading to spoken language originated by vocal imitation and driven by sexual selection[9]. The main point of sexual selection is that mate choice is a key element in reproductive success. Since the cost of reproduction is higher for females than males, they are more selective with their mate selection; these biological facts provide an excellent understanding of the courtship behaviour and appearance of animal species within the framework of the evolutionary theory. Darwin also noted that:

“… Articulate language is, however, peculiar to man; but he uses in common with the lower animals inarticulate cries to express his meaning, aided by gestures and the movements of the muscle of the face. … It is not the mere power of articulation that distinguishes man from other animals, for as everyone knows, parrots can talk; but it is his large power of connecting definite sounds with definite ideas; and this obviously depends on the development of the mental faculties.[10]”(1871,p54)

This further validates that the advantage of language must have been enormous, to have become encoded in our genotypes and encephalized in our brains. One must however question why this process was specific to our species. It is rational to conclude that our species is social, compliant and collaborative and out of necessity far more kin-dependent – not necessarily because we are smarter – but because we are motivated. Some of our ancestors were motivated to learn to acquire and share categories in this all powerful new way began to profit from the considerable advantages it conferred – the benefits of acquiring new categories without the time, energy, uncertainty and risk of acquiring them through a direct sensorimotor induction[11]. Baldwinian evolution began to favour this nature to learn and to use symbols to name categories and to recombine their names in order to establish and propositonalize about further categories, because of the adaptive profits that category description and sharing conferred. The predisposition to acquire and convey categories by instruction thus grew stronger and stronger in the genomes and brains of the offspring of those who were more motivated and disposed to learns to do so. And that became our species’ “language-based” brain[12].

Ultimately through the research I have undertaken, I find this theory by Condillac and Darwin to be one that provides a logical argument that is the most unfaultable in comparison to the numerous other theories. The trail of ideas and evidence to support this notion, that through a process of the need for courting a mate, expressing a state of emotion or challenging a rival led to the motivation for language and then eventually these articulate sounds have gradually turned into words is the most clear and concise argument. While we can only speculate on the true origins of human language at this point, I believe this argument is one that certainly holds the most value.

Referenced Material
Bartlett, A. 2009, “From First Hesitation to Scenic Imagination: Originary Thinking with Eric Gans”, Contagion, vol. 15/16, pp. 89-172,261.

Boe, L.-j., Granat, J., Heim, J.-l., Badin, P., Barbier, G., Captier, G., et al. (2013). Reconstructed fossil vocal tracts and the production of speech. In New Perspectives on the Origins of Language (pp. 75-125). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.

Chomsky, N. (1976). On the Nature of Language. Origins and Evolution of Language and Speech , 46-57.

Cohen, H. (2013). Historical, Darwinian and current perspectives on the origin(s) of language. In New Perspectives on the Origins of Language (pp. 3-26). Amsterdam: John Bejamin’s Publishing.

Martel, D. (2011). Three Prehistoric Inventions That Shaped us. New York : Peter Lang.

Masse, A. B., Harnard, S., Picard, O., & St Louis, B. (2013). Symbol grounding and the origin of language. In New Perspectives on the Origins of Language (pp. 279-296). Amsterdam: John Benjamin’s Publishing.

[1] (Cohen, 2013)
[2] (Cohen, 2013)
[3] (Cohen, 2013)
[4] (Cohen, 2013)
[5] (Cohen, 2013)
[6] (Cohen, 2013)
[7] (Boe, et al., 2013)
[8] (Cohen, 2013)
[9] (Masse, Harnard, Picard, & St Louis, 2013)
[10] (Cohen, 2013)
[11] (Masse, Harnard, Picard, & St Louis, 2013)
[12] (Masse, Harnard, Picard, & St Louis, 2013)

Photo Credit Illusion

Alchemy & The Soul

The Alchemists used philosophy and science to try and transform “base metals” to “noble metals” – like lead to gold; almost like magic. This was an unsuccessful process with metals, however, this process became a valuable template for the understanding of our human capacity.

Inked in my skin is the symbol of an alchemical process.

A process that I’ve come to attribute to many things.

This process consists of seven stages of; chemical, physiological, and psychological transformation.

I. Calcination

II. Dissolution

III. Separation

IV. Conjunction

V. Fermentation

VI. Distillation

VII. Coagulation


Calcination

The initial Black Phase of alchemy, during which the subject of transformation is purified by breaking it down – by fire, burning it, reducing it to ashes, after Calcination, the substance at hand is no longer affected by being broken down – fire has no power.

Physiologically, the Fire of Calcination can be experienced as the metabolic discipline or aerobic activity that tunes the body, burning off excesses from overindulgence and producing a lean and efficient body.

Psychologically, this operation involves the destruction of ego and our attachments to material possessions. Calcination is usually a natural humbling process as we are gradually assaulted and overcome by the trials and tribulations of life, though it can be a deliberate surrender of our inherent hubris gained through a variety of spiritual disciplines that ignite the fire of introspection and self- evaluation. In society, the Calcination is expressed in the lives of revolutionaries, conquerors, and other warriors who try to overthrow the status quo.


Dissolution

This is still the Black Phase of alchemy, and the process of purification continues the next circle of Dissolution takes place in the interior or innermost parts.

In the laboratory, the second operation involves dissolving the ashes from Calcination in water, acid, or other solution.

Psychologically, Dissolution represents a further breaking down of the artificial structures of the psyche by total immersion in the unconscious, the rejected part of our consciousness. Within the alchemist, the dissolving Water of Dissolution can take the form of dreams, voices, visions, and strange feelings which reveal a less ordered and less rational world existing simultaneously with our everyday life. During Dissolution, the conscious mind lets go of control to allow the surfacing of buried material and tied up energy. Dissolution can be experienced as “flow,” the bliss of being well-used and actively engaged in creative acts without personal hang-ups or established hierarchy getting in the way. In society, the process of steady growth through gradual Dissolution is exemplified by monastic, nature-based, or agrarian lifestyles.

Physiologically, Dissolution is the continuance of the opening-up of energy channels in the body to recharge and elevate every single cell.


Separation

Separation in which we see the first coming together of soul and spirit, and the newly acquired vantage point allows the discernment of what is worthy of being saved from the previous two operations.

Laboratory Separation is the isolation of the components of Dissolution by filtration or fractional distillation and then discarding any impure or unworthy material. It is the isolation of the desired components from the previous two purification operations (Calcination and Dissolution). In the laboratory, the components of the polluted solution from Dissolution are separated out by filtration, cutting, settling, or agitation with air. Any dead or unworthy material is then discarded.

Psychologically, this process is the rediscovery of our essence and the reclaiming of dream and visionary “gold” previously rejected by the masculine, rational part of our minds. It is, for the most part, a conscious process in which we review formerly hidden material and decide what to discard and what to reintegrate into our refined personality. Much of this shadowy material is things we are ashamed of or were taught to hide away by our parents, churches, and schooling. Separation is letting go of the self-inflicted restraints to our true nature, so we can shine through. The process of Separation retrieves the frozen energy released from the breaking down of habits and crystallised thoughts (assumptions, beliefs, and prejudices) and hardened feelings (emotional blockages, neuroses, and phobias). This misspent energy is now available to drive our spiritual transformation. In Society, Separation is expressed as the establishment of clans, cities, and nationalities.

Physiologically, Separation is following and controlling the breath in the body as it works with the forces of Spirit and Soul to give birth to new energy and physical renewal.


Conjunction

In the laboratory, the operation of Conjunction is the recombination of the saved elements from Separation into a new substance. Often this was a forced marriage done by fusing or amalgamating metals or by mixing saved components in a new chemical reaction by the addition of a temporary mediator such as an acid or a catalyst.

Physiologically, Conjunction is using the body’s sexual energies for personal transformation. Conjunction takes place in the body at the level of the Heart .

Psychologically, Conjunction is empowerment of our true selves, the union of both the masculine and feminine sides of our personalities into a new belief system or an intuitive state of consciousness. The alchemists referred to it as the Lesser Stone, and after it is achieved, the adept is able to clearly discern what needs to be done to achieve lasting enlightenment. Often synchronicities begin to occur at this stage that confirm the alchemist is on the right track in his or her personal transformation. In society, it is the growth of crafts and technology to master the environment.


Fermentation

Like natural fermentation, alchemical Fermentation is a two-stepped process that begins with Putrefaction, which in which the matter is allowed first to rot and decompose and then to ferment or come alive again in spirit.

Laboratory Putrefation begins with the rotting of the plant material or substance of transformation. The sign that Putrefaction is nearing its end is a milky white fluid that appears like a tunnel of white light in the black, rotting material. The dead material seems to come to life again with an influx of digesting bacteria, as Fermentation begins. This is the introduction of new life into the product of Conjunction to revive and rejuvenate it in a process of spiritisation.

We see this process most clearly in the making of wine. First, the grapes are “sacrificed” or crushed to release their essences in the juice. Then, Putrefaction begins as the juice is allowed to decompose and rot. Next, a white layer of digesting bacteria arises that begins the process of Fermentation. Finally, the new life force “conquers” the original identity of the grape juice and supplants it with a new and higher presence or life. This higher presence is release during the next operation (Distillation), which produces the true Spirit of Wine (its alcohol), which contains the purified essence of grapes.

Psychologically, this process is the death of the feeble (or unstable) Child of the Conjunction that will eventually result in its resurrection to a new level of being. Fermentation starts with the inspiration of spiritual power from Above that reanimates, energises, and enlightens the alchemist. Out of the blackness of the alchemist’s despair (Putrefaction) comes a brilliant display of colours and meaningful visions. Fermentation can be achieved through various activities that include intense prayer, desire for mystical union, breakdown of the personality, transpersonal therapy, drugs, and deep meditation. Thus, personal Fermentation is living inspiration from something totally beyond us. In society, the Fermentation experience is the basis of religion and mystical awareness.

Physiologically, Fermentation is the rousing of living energy in the body to heal and vivify. It is expressed as vibratory tones and spoken truths emerging from the Throat.


Distillation

Distillation is a key process on all levels of alchemy. It involves releasing volatile essences from their prison in matter and condensing them in a purified form. In practical terms, this involves heating a substance until it boils, and then condensing the vapours into a purified liquid.

In the laboratory, Distillation is the boiling and condensation of the fermented solution to increase its purity, which is why this is known as the White Stage of alchemy.

Psychologically, this agitation and sublimation of psychic forces is necessary to ensure that no impurities from the lower personality are incorporated into the next and final process.

The alchemists thought of this phase as working with the heavenly substance Mercury to extract and refashion the metals. The Ferment, the soft amalgam or balsam resulting from this operation must be hardened into a Stone before it can be made permanent, and the final phase of Distillation is a Sublimation in which vapour turns solid, or the spirit is made corporeal. Chemical Distillation is the boiling and condensation of a solution to increase its concentration and purity. Chemically, it is the boiling and condensation of the fermented solution to increase its purity, such as takes place in the distilling of wine to make brandy.

Psychologically, Distillation is the agitation and sublimation of psychic forces is necessary to ensure that no impurities from the inflated ego or deeply submerged id are incorporated into the next and final stage. Personal Distillation consists of a variety of introspective techniques that raise the content of the psyche to the highest level possible, free from sentimentality and emotions, cut off even from one’s personal identity. Distillation is the purification of the unborn Self — all that we truly are and can be. In society, the Distillation experience is expressed as science and objective experimentation.

Physiologically, Distillation is raising the life force repeatedly from the lower regions in the cauldron of the body to the brain (what Oriental alchemists called the Circulation of the Light), where it eventually becomes a wondrous solidifying light full of power.


Coagulation

In alchemical metallurgy, the baser metals are transformed into incorruptible gold during this stage. In many alchemical experiments, Coagulation is the precipitation or sublimation of the purified Ferment from Distillation.

On the mental level, Coagulation is first sensed as a new confidence that is beyond all things, though many experience it as a Second Body of golden coalesced light, a permanent vehicle of consciousness that embodies the highest aspirations and evolution of mind. Coagulation incarnates and releases the soul, the Astral Body. The alchemists believed they could exist on all levels of reality. In society, it is the living wisdom in which everyone exists within the same light of evolved consciousness and knowledge of Truth.

On the bodily level, this stage is marked by the release of the Elixir in the blood that rejuvenates the body into a perfect vessel of health. A brain ambrosia is said to be released through the interaction of light from the pineal gland and matter from the pituitary. This heavenly food or viaticum both nourishes and energises the cells without any waste products being produced. These physiological and psychological processes create the Second Body, a body of solid light that emerges through the Crown.. On the planetary level, Coagulation is a return to the Garden of Eden, this time on a higher level in tune with the divine mind.

Photo Credit Illusion